While much of the country is still digging out of a deep freeze, I thought I would post one of the easiest and most comforting soups that I know. Chinese Pork Rib and Radish Soup has a steaming clear broth, hearty chunks of rich pork ribs, and delicately flavored Daikon radish. Which makes Paigu Luobo Tang the perfect antidote to February’s unpredictable weather. And it couldn’t be easier to prepare. With just a handful of ingredients and only a few minutes of hands on time, this warming Chinese soup is going to be become your new winter secret weapon too.
Crystal Clear Broth
The hallmark of Pork Rib and Radish Soup is a really clean, clear broth. This requires parboiling the pork ribs to remove impurities that would otherwise make the soup cloudy. Speaking of ribs, I generally choose St. Louis Ribs because they are meaty and their high fat content adds lots of luscious flavor to this simple soup.
Two Kinds of Peppercorns!
I use both black and white peppercorns in my Pork Rib and Radish Soup. The black peppercorns give their familiar heat, while the white peppercorns add a funky (my daughters say barnyard) flavor I love. But if you only have one or the other on hand, no biggie. The soup will be delicious either way. Crack them coarsely with a mallet to bring out their flavor.
Daikon radish is used throughout Asia. It looks like an enormous white carrot, and has a very mild and almost sweet flavor. It is used heavily in stews and soups as it hits peak flavor during cooler months.
As the broth simmers, you will want to skim the broth occasionally. Pork ribs render out a lot of fat and you want to scoop out as much of it as possible to keep your broth clean tasting and not fatty.
Now that the pork and radish are both tender, it’s time to serve up this gloriously comforting Pork Rib and Radish soup. I like to garnish with some scallions for a nice presentation and a little color. The beauty of this soup is in the pared down ingredients and ridiculously easy technique. It really doesn’t need anything else, but if you’d like to add a handful of greens, such as watercress or spinach right before serving, I’d say that’s a nice touch.
This is a rustic, comforting soup so I don’t bother taking out the garlic cloves, which kind of melt down, or the peppercorns. For the most part, the peppercorns will start to sink to the bottom of the pot so you shouldn’t be getting a lot in your soup bowls. However, if it bothers you, you can strain them out before serving.
When you make this, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag us in your photos, @funkyasiankitchen. Show us the goods!
One Tablespoon whole white peppercorns
One Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
12 garlic cloves
1 rack of St. Louis style spare ribs, cut through the ribs to create smaller bite sized pieces
12 cups water
1 daikon radish
3 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
Sliced scallion for garnish
- Use a mortar and pestle to lightly crack the peppercorns. Alternative, place them in a sealed plastic bag and use a heavy pot or can to coarsely crack. You want them to be in large cracked pieces.
- It is fine if there are some whole peppercorns in the mix. In fact the smaller the pieces, the spicier your soup will be, so if you prefer a more mild soup, only lightly crack some of the peppercorns.
- Place a skillet over medium-low to medium heat, toast the peppercorns for 2-3 mins until fragrant. Set aside.
- Cut the rack of ribs between the bones so you have a pile of mini ribs. Set aside.
- Bring a pot with plenty of water to a boil over high heat and then add pork ribs. Bring the pot back to a boil and continue to cook for two additional minutes. Discard the liquid and rinse the ribs under running water.
- Clean out the pot and then add the pork ribs, 12 cups of water, 3 teaspoons of salt, and 1 Tablespoon sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower the heat to medium low to maintain a gentle simmer, skimming off any foam. Add the peppercorns and garlic.
- Simmer for 1 hour, with the pot covered with a lid, skimming periodically (the ribs will give off quite a bit of fat.)
- In the meantime, peel the radish and cut it in half lengthwise. If the daikon is particularly fat, cut it again in half lengthwise so you have 4 quarters. Slice the daikon into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.
- After an hour of cooking, skim the surface fat once more and add the daikon radish. Continue simmering until the ribs and daikon are tender, about 30 more minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust with a little more salt as needed.
- Serve the soup garnished with some sliced scallions.
*Many of the grocery store near me sell spare ribs that are already cut in thirds. If you can only find un-cut ribs, ask the person in the meat department to cut them for you. Unless you have a sharp meat cleaver and some experience, it’s best to leave this to the experts. You can also leave the ribs uncut and just slice up the ribs between the bones. It will work out just fine either way.
*This boiled soup has many variations and you can adjust it to suit your taste or what’s in your fridge. You can use cabbage, potatoes, or turnips instead of the daikon. And some greens like watercress or spinach thrown in at the last minute is a nice touch too. Sometimes I add some sliced ginger or whole scallions to the broth too and fish it out right before serving.